I saw Transformers last night. Despite all my worries that the hack Michael Bay would mess it up, it was pretty damned good. The action was incredible and the special effects were top notch. The story was a little suspect (map on the glasses? what the...??) and there were some poor lines delivered even worse but the sheer spectacle of the film was great.
However, I'm not here to discuss that movie. I want to talk about the old Transformers animated movie. You know, the one where they all die? Yeah. That one. Going back and watching that movie, just like watching the cartoon on which it expands, a viewer today must wonder what all the fuss is about. As a kid, there was nothing cooler than giant friggin' robots turning into cars and shooting guns. It has the 3 things young boys love: cars, robots and guns. But if you watch it now, you enjoy it for pure nostalgia because it's not for the production quality, let me tell you. The animated comes off as stiff and the stories are generally poorly conceived and repetitive. How many times can the Autobots randomly run into Megatron and the boys, uselessly skirmish for a bit, then fly away, with no victor.
So then, there's the ill-fated movie in 1986. We all know Transformers exists to sell toys. There's no other reason for it. But the transgression Transformers: The Movie made is inexcusable. They trick you into thinking you're going to the theater to see all your favourites...then they pull the rug out from under you. They dupe people into the cinema then kill off everyone you know, and replace them with people you have no connection with nor do you care to see, and you're essentially trapped in the hall. Having known that they'd pull the ol' switcheroo, nobody would have gone to see that movie. It was such a clear and blatant marketing ploy to introduce a completely new line of toys and it failed on a spectacular level. The movie bombed, audiences went home terribly upset and Transformers fizzled away after that. They even had to bring Optimus back in the next series but it was too late. Add to that incredibly poor and disjointed storytelling, alternatively nice and horrible animation quality and a soundtrack so utterly bizarre, you are left wondering who was smoking what when they made the movie (Weird Al's "Dare To Be Stupid", anyone?), and you have one of the most bizarre viewing experiences known to man.
That being said, I love watching the old stuff. It's a reminder of a simpler time, where giant, honkin' robots can beat the tar out of each other and we kids just watch and be entertained. All the new Transformers series with their high budgets and neato animation can't compare to the joy that is the original.